Students, faculty and staff at Eagle Elementary join hands as they surround their school, giving it a warm embrace on the final day of classes for the 2017-18 academic year, Wednesday, June 20. For the school’s fifth graders, it was the last time they’ll participate in this annual tradition, as they’ll attend Bethlehem Central Middle School in the fall. Photo courtesy Bethlehem Central School District.
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For the second year in a row, the Bethlehem Central School District has been named the number one school district in the Capital District by the Albany Business Review. It is the fourth time in five years that the district has received the distinction.
Performance measures are based on data released by the New York state Education Department and include all K-12 districts in the 11-county greater Capital District. An overall score is determined by a weighted tabulation in five categories: language and reading; social studies; math; science; and a graduation score that measures graduation rates, the percentage of graduates who plan to attend college and the percentage of graduates with advanced Regents diplomas.
BCSD was the only district to receive a score of 100, followed by Voorheesville Central School District, with a score of 98.18, and North Colonie Central School District, with a score of 97.72. According to the Business Review, Bethlehem also ranked first in SAT scores and graduation rates.
BCSD elementary schools did not fare quite as well when ranked by test scores. Elsmere Elementary placed 19th, behind Voorheesville Elementary (7th) and North Colonie’s Boght Hills (12th) and Southgate (16th) elementary schools. Slingerlands ranked 23rd, Glenmont ranked 27th, Eagle ranked 31st and Hamagrael ranked 51st out of 60 schools. Loudonville Elementary in North Colonie ranked 21st while Latham Ridge Elementary ranked 50th. In Guilderland CSD, Pine Bush ranked 35th, Lynnwood and Westmere ranked 41st and 42nd, respectively, and Altamont ranked 44th. Albertus W. Becker Elementary school in Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk CSD was immediately behind at 45th.
In terms of spending, Bethlehem ranked 56th out of 90 districts. With an enrollment of 4,500 students, the district spent $21,583 per student in 2017-18, more than Voorheesville ($20,446), South Colonie ($20,759), Guilderland ($20,128) and North Colonie ($18,805), but less than RCS, which spent $24,495 per student.
In 2017-18, Bethlehem Superintendent Jody Monroe earned less than superintendents from both Colonie districts and Guilderland CSD, but more than Voorheesville Superintendent Brian Hunt and RCS Superintendent Brian Bailey. (During the last Bethlehem Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, June 20, board members approved a 2.8 percent salary increase for Monroe next year, bringing her salary to $183,498.)
The Business Review rankings showed that demographics and economics play a noticeable role in the performance of district students. Eight of the 10 highest-ranked districts also had the lowest percentage of students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, available to students whose families earn up to 135 percent or 185 percent of the federal poverty line, respectively. In Bethlehem, that applies to 11 percent of the student population. In Voorheesville, nine percent of students are eligible, in Guilderland: 17 percent, in North Colonie: 18 percent, and in South Colonie: 20 percent.
To find out more about how local schools performed last year, visit the Business Review’s Schools Report page at bizj.us/1pm7a5.